TWO leading Scots charity will today (Wednesday) join forces to demand more action to protect children from the damaging impact of alcohol and junk food marketing.
Alcohol Focus Scotland and Obesity Action Scotland are hosting an event in Edinburgh today called Leave our kids alone! Protecting children from alcohol and junk food marketing.
The event will hear from a leading academic who has criticised a new Gary Lineker “Beer Magnet” advert for Walkers crisps and a former marketing executive who will highlight some of the advertising techniques used to encourage us to buy and eat junk food and fizzy drinks.
Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Alcohol marketing encourages children’s drinking and the current regulatory framework is failing to protect children.
“Exposure to alcohol marketing reduces the age at which young people start to drink, increases the likelihood that they will drink and increases the amount of alcohol they will consume one they have started to drink.
“AFS believes every child in Scotland should have the right to an alcohol-free childhood and more than 30 organisations, as well as the majority of MSPs, have pledged their support to end alcohol marketing in childhood.”
Lorraine Tulloch, of Obesity Action Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government recently committed to tackling the pervasive advertising of junk foods. We wish to see this bold commitment taken forward with urgency to help protect our children from the short and long-term health consequences of being overweight.
“Junk food marketing is big business in the UK with over £143 million spent on advertising crisps, confectionery and sugary drinks alone. Children are particularly vulnerable to these adverts and have reported wanting to lick the screen or pestering their parents until they get a certain product.”
One of the speakers at today’s event, Maria Piacentini, Professor of Consumer Research at Lancaster University, said: “The pervasive nature of alcohol marketing in society is such that children are widely exposed to these messages.
“The current ad campaign for Walkers Max Strong crisps, featuring Gary Lineker, is a good example of what the British Medical Association labelled the ‘excessively pro-alcohol real and virtual environments’ within which young people are growing up.”
Former marketing executive Dan Parker, who has Type 2 Diabetes and campaigns for a reduction in sugar consumption, will also address today’s event.
He said: “Big brands use many techniques to encourage children to buy and eat more junk food. Everything from free toys to cartoon characters. This is damaging our children’s health and it is time to take action, time to protect our children.”
Dr Nathan Critchlow, of the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling, said: “Children
can be exposed to a seemingly limitless number of attractive, appealing and evocative promotional messages for both alcohol and unhealthy food brands across a range of marketing channels.
“Research has consistently shown that alcohol marketing appears in places which may reach young people and that content may appeal to younger audiences through creative and attractive designs, use of popular real-world stories and events, and reinforcing that alcohol consumption is highly sociable, fun, and desirable.
“Wider evidence presents a compelling case that self-regulation of alcohol marketing does not work.”
Today’s event takes place at The Melting Pot, 5 Rose Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2PR, 2.30-6pm.